Business Development | Just How Trustworthy Are Online Reviews?


01/011/2012 — elloAgency Flathead valley

 Generally speaking, a trustworthy review would come from a source that is personally known, with a trust that the motivation for the review is in the requester’s best interest.

Before social media, trusted referrals came from friends, family, neighbors and coworkers; a group of people you know, have a relationship with and trust enough to seek out a referral for a product or service provider.

The electronic age is consuming that reliable referral network like a contractor on a burger and fries, and replacing it with the cold hard Internet; where anyone can say anything about any company, for any reason, with complete anonymity as to person or of purpose.

How reliable are the reviews on the Internet? Well, with this new online choice we have to take into consideration and/or try to determine the motivation of the author of the review because it is no longer coming from someone we know and trust, right?

What is the motive? After extensive research and evaluation of the online reviews for many companies one thing has been consistent, most of the reviews studied could not be trusted because of the suspected motivation of the author.

For example, We discovered many people, of all ages, who have written negative reviews about a company they themselves have never done business with. Many companies solicit positive reviews from their sphere of influence for a benefit; free diner, etc. Several competitors have been caught posting negative reviews about the competition.

And last, but not least, the biggest offender of posting untrustworthy reviews; the Internet Marketing Industry itself. That is right, marketing agents, advertising agencies, social media guru’s, and business consultants just like us. There are some that will trade a good referral or include a good referral as part of their service.

This means that the majority of the reviews posted on the Internet cannot be trusted to be in your best interest. However, there is a very small percentage that are honest postings from satisfied and/or dissatisfied patrons. Here are a few signs you can look for to determine if a review is reputable:

Most legitimate reviews are targeted at one or two subjects; the food I ordered was perfect and the service could not have been better, for example.  If the reviewer goes on and on about several aspects of the business and gushes how bad or good the company is excessively; it is most likely a fake review and should be ignored.

If the post uses profanity, degrading, or any kind of offensive language. This tells us that the post was placed out of anger and/or delirium and should not be considered because we always regret what was said in the moment, later.

If you suspect a review is questionable, most sites, allow you to view the review poster’s profile. From that you can see a trend. Are all their reviews positive or negative? That is a sign that the review cannot be trusted. An honest reviewer will have an eclectic mix of good and bad reviews using different ratings.

The best way to determine the reviews that can be trusted is to consider how you would write a review yourself. Your review, whether negative or positive would be written in a short, to the point, compassionate manner.

For example, most honest reviewers discuss the good points and the bad points when posting a review. There message is short and to the point. I suggest going with your gut feeling on some, it will usually be right.

The last point to consider is the good news – bad news theory. Bad news travels fast, good news doesn’t sell! Simply put, most satisfied customers do not offer reviews. There feeling is that the company is supposed to provide satisfactory products and services for a reasonable fee. You don’t get a pat on the back for just doing what was expected or implied.

The bottom line is, the new review and referral services offered today on the Internet, no matter how much the website owners try to police them, are highly flawed, unreliable, and for the most part, are overflowing with postings which cannot be trusted to be honest reviews.

If you or your company is the victim of unfair review postings, your elloAgency Consultant will be able to help you improve on those reviews.


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